Robert Brindley

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Meaning of Phrases??

Did you ever wonder where certain phrases we use everyday come from? Well I have, so over the next few months I'll be posting some phrases and their meanings to the Blog.
If you have any of your own you would like to share, please forward them to me, I would be very grateful.
So to start the ball rolling, how about 'POSH'

Here's what I found:

Meaning: Elegant, swanky, rich.

Origin: The much-repeated tale is that 'Posh' derives from the 'port out, starboard home' legend supposedly printed on tickets of passengers on P&O (Peninsula and Orient) passenger vessels that travelled between UK and India in the days of the Raj. Britain and India are both in the northern hemisphere so the port (left-hand side) berths were mostly in the shade when travelling out (easterly) and the starboard ones when coming back. So the best and most expensive berths were POSH, hence the term.
A very plausible and attractive explanation and it would be nice to be able to confirm it.
There is no evidence to confirm this story though, P&O say they have never issued such tickets and, although many tickets from that era still exist, no 'POSH' ones have been found.
Mind you, even if this mode of travel were the source of the phrase, there's no particular reason that tickets would have been stamped with POSH, so the absence of such tickets doesn't prove anything. The lack of any citation of 'port out, starboard home' in any of the numerous letters and literary works that remain from the British Raj is a more convincing argument against that origin.
So there you have it! More to follow over the coming weeks.


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